My Top 10 Books of 2023 📚
If you know me, you know that I’m an avid reader. Books have always held a central role in my life, and in many cases, have transformed the way I see and interact with the world. I approach reading with complete openness and wonder. If a writer can cast a spell on me such that I forget who I am and become fully integrated into their world or way of seeing, then I am greatly in their debt.
The following books are the ones I read in 2023 that touched me most profoundly, inspired great psychological shifts, or made me think differently about the world we live in. It’s a mix of both non-fiction and fiction because my favourite way to learn facts and get to the heart of the matter is through stories—factual or pulled in by the author through inspiration.
I hope you love these books as much as I do—and, I would LOVE to hear your recommendations for what I should read next! What are the books that have impacted you most?
There are so many books about money and wealth. This is one of the best I’ve read. Twist doesn’t share insider secrets, nor does she tell you how to better manage your money. What she does is pull back the curtain to reveal the societal and cultural beliefs that underpin the typical Western relationship with money, and illuminate the path toward shifting that relationship.
The concept of “sufficiency,” in particular, had a huge impact on me. In a culture obsessed with abundance, what does enough look and feel like? Since reading this book, I’ve found more joy in the flow of money that comes into my life, and felt more satisfied, wealthy and keen to identify where I want my money, time and energy to go.
Braiding Sweetgrass is gorgeous and enriching. It is an ode to the beauty of this world, told with the precision of a scientist and the heart of a poet. Kimmerer brings together the two lenses through which she was raised to experience and understand the world: that of an indigenous woman who deeply reveres the plants and animals as our oldest teachers, and that of a trained botanist, using scientific methods to understand the relationships within our environment.
She draws connections, illustrates the fundamental reciprocity of living systems, and weaves stories that are both heart-rending and though-provoking. I finished this book with a combination of joy at having received these lessons and sadness that it was over. I felt envious of her students, and a strong desire to spend more time outside. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s words, it’s “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise.” I could not recommend it more.
Creativity is our birthright. Inspiration can strike anyone at any time. An artist is simply a person who chooses to tune into the flow of ideas out there in the ethers and do their best to translate it into tangible form.
I already loved Rick because of his amazing interviews in the Broken Record podcast. (Clearly, we’re on a first-name basis as a result!) This book is a guide, a treatise, a call to action. It is chock full of wisdom. It is a transmission that inspires me every time I pick it up. It’s one of those books that you can open at random, read a page, feel a rush of excitement and wonder, and then get to work—writing, creating, tapping into the energy of flow and productivity. If you’re just about to get started on a new endeavour or you’re feeling stuck in your work or a project, I suggest you get yourself a copy and keep it somewhere handy.
This novel possessed me from the moment I picked it up, until I finally put it down three days later. Ann-Marie McDonald’s prose is exquisite and this story is extraordinary. It drops you into nineteenth century Britain, with one of the most likeable characters I’ve encountered in years. There is a mystery at play, and all you want is to get to the bottom of it.
The story is dark and light, scientific and magical; it is deeply psychological, and digs deep to uncover what it means to be a human in relationship and within a specific culture at a specific time. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’ll leave you with a quote:
“Byrn speaks and I understand him without effort, his words as clear as spring water. / Ask a favour of the plover, he says. Borrow her eyes. / Then I am flying through the air, and the flying is his song, and I am / the flying, and his words are golden ribbons scrolling about me, bearing / me along. I see the plover's wing and I am the plover. Suspended. / Above the moor. There is no longer any I, only All. / Simple. Vast. Unknown. / All to be forgot on waking, like dew on a spiderweb.”
If you read my emails regularly, you likely remember how much I loved this book. In this highly readable and empowering dive into mindset, Dweck shares her discoveries about of the differences between fixed and growth mindsets, and how these approaches to life impact success, happiness and achievement.
The incredible and inspiring life story of a man who chose to surrender to the flow of life, and as a result, went from a yogi living in the woods to the founder of a public software company. If you’re on an entrepreneurial path and looking for a role model, Singer is your guy. You can also pair this with The Untethered Soul, Singer's guide to personal liberation.
I already knew about Suzanne Simard from the Hidden Life of Trees (below) and listening to her speak about her work in a Radiolab podcast episode. She’s the person whose research uncovered the “wood wide web”—the connections between trees via mycelium. This book is part memoir, part scientific treatise, eminently readable, highly informative, and decidedly inspiring. She’s definitely one of my heroes.
Talking about heroes: Isabelle Allende is at the top of my list of literary heroes. Her fiction is absolutely glorious—some of the best storytelling out there in my opinion—and I was delighted at how irreverent and cutting this little non-fiction book turned out to be. It’s a reflection on womanhood: part memoir, past feminist call-to-action, and very funny and self-deprecating. This book (and woman!) is a delight.
This is another book I can’t believe I only read last year. It’s a little like a non-fiction version of The Overstory by Richard Powers (one of my all-time favourite novels); or rather, it feels like it may have provided some of the source materials. Wohlleben, a forester in Germany, draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries of the last decades to paint a picture of the forest as a community of connection, mutual support and reciprocity—the health of which is crucial to the entire population of the planet.
I discovered Murakami through a short story about cats in the New Yorker a number of years ago. I have subsequently read most of his novels and short story collections which are brilliant, weird and magical. This book, in particular, was spellbinding: it’s deeply psychological, magical realism—a story of a young man gripped by his fear of an Oedipal curse and the ensuing drama that comes as a result of his running away from home. I also strongly recommend 1Q84 (amazing on Audiobook!), Killing Commendatore, and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle (but don’t get the audiobook for that one—the reading is so bad, I switched to the paper version).